w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
While the specific names of U.S. Senate and House committees don't always foretell precisely what very specific areas they may oversee or regard as their own purview, the renaming of such a committee by its new chair, as is occasionally done at the start of a new session, particularly when control of the chamber changes hands from one party to another, can be very telling.
I believe this may be one such instance where quite a bit can actually be read into the new name for what had previously been the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee's "Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights"...
Sean Hannity and his friends on the Republican right must be furious about the outrageous land grab happening to private American citizens in Nebraska. Wait, what? He's in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline project anyway? How could that be?
The pipeline's owner, TransCanada Corp., has now filed an eminent domain action in a Nebraska state court seeking to force private landowners to grant an easement that would permit the Canadian-owned company to erect sections of the highly controversial Keystone XL on privately owned land.
The new filing comes on the heels of a controversial decision earlier this month in which a 3-judge minority of the 7-judge Nebraska Supreme Court were permitted to overturn a lower court ruling that the process by which the state's Republican Governor Dave Heineman permitted TransCanada to revise the pipeline's route was unconstitutional. Heineman's decision was upheld because of a Cornhusker state requirement that state constitutionality be determined by a super-majority of high court's justices. (The new route was necessary after both the Republican Governor and GOP-controlled state legislature objected to the originally-planned route.)
While the Nebraska Supreme Court's decision at the time served to shift the immediate focus of the debate back to Washington D.C., where the Republican-controlled House voted for fast-track approval of the pipeline and a similar bill is quickly working its way through the newly GOP-controlled U.S. Senate, TransCanada's eminent domain filing in the state may prove a major embarrassment to those same elected Republicans. Many of those same GOPers, and their mouthpieces in the media like Hannity, have previously declared fierce opposition to eminent domain abuse that occurs when either state or local entities condemn properties owned by ordinary citizens, where such condemnations primarily benefit commercial interests of wealthy corporations and developers...
UC Irvine law professor Rick Hasen was among the first to notice the "strange rephrasing" of the questions the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear [PDF] when it combined four different marriage equality challenges on Friday.
The questions from the different appellate court challenges that the Court agreed to entertain --- after the 6th Circuit broke with every other federal appeals court in the nation and allowed restrictions to remain on marriage rights in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee --- were combined to just two questions on which the Supremes agreed to hear arguments:
2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
Hasen described the way the first question was written as "quite odd", explaining: "Rather than ask about an equal right of gays and lesbians to marry same sex partners, it asks about the right of the states to deny same sex marriage."
Indeed, amid the jubilation following the narrow 2010 ruling by SCOTUS in the Windsor case, which effectively struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning pointed out that "by limiting its decision...the court left open to future adjudication of two vitally important questions":
2. Must states, which do not permit same-sex couples to marry, recognize the marital rights of those same-sex couples who have chosen to marry in other states where it is permitted?
Note the difference in the wording of Canning's "unresolved questions" from 2010 and how the Court has subtly adjusted the issue raised in the first question to become one of state's rights, rather than of equal justice under the law for the same-sex couples to be married there.
Hasen observes that the Court's new wording also "leaves open the possibility that states could get out of the marriage business entirely," as unlikely as they may seem. Other legal experts, such as Ilya Shapiro at Forbes, agreed the re-wording of questions by the Court was "unusual". "Typically the justices simply decide whether to take a case based on the petitioners' articulation," he explained.
Hasen says the unusual reframing by the Court and the late hour in the day on Friday that their order was finally released, "raises the question of why were they rewritten" in the way they were, and "with an accompanying direct order --- I've not seen that before --admonishing the parties to stick with discussing these questions presented."
So, is something afoot here?...
When will those butchers of ISIS and al-Qaeda learn how to treat others with peace, respect and dignity so that they can be welcomed into the world of civilized nations like our long time ally Saudi Arabia?...
Rare video of Monday's killing shows the woman, a Burmese resident named as Lalia Bint Abdul Muttablib Basim, screaming while being dragged along the street. Four police officers then hold the woman down before a sword-wielding man slices her head off, using three blows to complete the act.
In the chilling recording, Bashim, who was found guilty in a Saudi Sharia court of sexually abusing and murdering her seven-year-old step-daughter, is heard protesting her innocence until the very end. "I did not kill. I did not kill," she screams repeatedly.
[Ed Note: The original story at Vice links to a YouTube video of the beheading. We chose not to include that link in the above quoted text.]
The United States' long time friend Saudi Arabia, the world's second biggest oil producer (after Russia), and purchaser of the largest U.S. arms sale in American history (in 2010), has also made headlines of late for, as Vice's Harriet Salem describes it in the same article, "the public flogging of Raif Badawi, a blogger and political activist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a total of 1,000 lashings for a range of offenses, including insulting religious authorities."
Last year, Saudi Arabia introduced a series of new laws following uprisings in other Arab nations. They claimed the laws were in response to the threat of terrorism. The royal decree is said to have defined terrorism, reportedly, as "calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based". The favored nation, according to the UK's Independent, also identified "a broad list of groups which the government considers to be terrorist organisations --- including the Muslim Brotherhood."
A spokesman for Human Rights Watch at the time explained that "Saudi authorities have never tolerated criticism of their policies, but these recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism."
But, of course, they're our friends. So, beheadings? Oppression in the name of religion? It's all good.
In short, my question is: Just because we can publish material offensive to millions, should we? Callers ring in with their thoughts --- lots of them --- during this interesting hour. Plus, Desi Doyen joins us, as usual, for the latest Green News Report, and to beat up the state of Texas a bit (because they deserve it)...
Download MP3 here or listen online below...
"Honest statement," "Karl Rove" and "Fox News" are three phrases that usually do not belong in the same sentence (unless it's the one I'm writing now!), but George W. Bush's aide-de-camp actually told the truth on the January 6 edition of Fox's "America's Newsroom."
As The Hill reports [emphasis added]:
"Common Core is, I think, the biggest challenge he faces," Rove said Tuesday on the Fox News show "America's Newsroom." "The question is, how can he defend high academic standards, which he believes in, when it has been conflated with the Obama administration."
Rove, formerly the top adviser to Bush's brother, President George W. Bush, said Common Core was originally a Republican idea put forth by Bill Bennett, the secretary of Education under President Reagan who was later appointed to a post in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.
But Rove said President Obama has since grasped onto it, making it toxic to Republican voters.
Now how about that! Common Core --- a national state standards initiative for k-12 education --- was a GOP concept until a Democrat found merit in the idea, at which point it became radical-left tyranny.
The same, of course, is now true for the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"), a scheme first proposed by the rightwing Heritage Foundation before it was later embraced by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts, before Obama embraced it, so Republicans decided to pretend it was a precursor to full apocalypse.
But I can think of yet another major policy initiative that Republicans used to love until Democrats said they thought it was a good idea, too...
I've been following, as I'm sure you have, Wednesday's horrific terror attack at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the heartbreaking, pointless and outrageous deaths of 12 journalists, cartoonists and editors at the paper, including two police officers. As you know, the attack is said to have been carried out in retaliation for cartoons published by the paper over the years lampooning the Islamic Prophet Mohammed.
It was a barbaric, gruesome, and unjustifiable act, allegedly carried out by extremist adherents of the Islamic faith against a group of journalists who poked satirical fun at extremists of virtually all religious faiths over the years.
There is no question about the absolute right of the journalists to do what they did, no matter who it may have offended. Moreover, courageous responses by the journalism and cartoonist communities (some great toons in response here and here), along with that of the people of France (see these photos, akin to none that I am aware of in the U.S. after the September 11 terror attacks here) have been both uplifting and inspiring in the wake of the attack.
That said, I am still having trouble understanding at least one thing about all of this...
As Florida prepares to become the 36th state in the union to follow the Constitution and allow marriage equality after midnight tonight, Jeb Bush is still trying to figure out how to win the 2016 nomination for President from the base of the Republican Party, while still maintaining viability for a national general election.
When asked over the weekend, after a round of golf, to comment on court rulings that will lead to same-sex marriage becoming legal across the Sunshine State on Tuesday (and already today in Miami-Dade County), Bush muttered to the Miami Herald:
After the comment was met with criticism from advocates of the Constitution as well as Miami-Dade's Republican mayor who said he "believes adults should be free to marry whomever they desire" and that he "respects anyone's right to marry, gay or straight," Jeb attempted a mulligan and offered the following, almost impossibly non-committal, have-it-all-ways official statement...
- with Brad Friedman
[An earlier version of this article was originally published by Truthout...]
Both election integrity advocates and dissembling GOP proponents of Photo ID voting restrictions were taken by surprise in late 2013 when 7th Circuit Court Judge Richard A. Posner said, during an interview with HuffPo Live, that the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision on the matter "would have been decided differently" if the Court had known then "about the abuse of voter identification laws."
That, in and of itself, was a remarkable turn of events. What was ultimately to come was even more so.
Crawford v. Marion County Election Board is the case which Republican proponents of strict Photo ID voting laws now (incorrectly and often disingenuously) cite as giving them carte blanche to enact similar laws in other states, irrespective of the extent to which photo ID laws serve to disenfranchise demographic groups --- minorities, students, the poor, women --- that all tend to vote for Democrats.
Posner is not just any judge. He is a renowned legal scholar and Reagan appointee to the federal bench, who has served on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeal since 1981. More importantly here, Posner was the author of the 7th Circuit's opinion in Crawford. In that case, Posner rejected an allegation that Indiana's polling place photo ID restriction was unconstitutional. That decision was affirmed at the time by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Posner, who is, as Yale Law Professor Fred Shapiro notes, the most cited jurist of the 20th Century, was not alone in his view in 2013 year that Crawford "would have been decided differently" if the Court knew then what it knows now.
Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the author of the plurality opinion in Crawford --- an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy --- told the Wall Street Journal following Posner's remarks at the time, that he "always thought that [dissenting Justice] David Souter got the thing correct, but my own problem with the case was that I didn't think the record [before the Court in 2008] supported everything he said in his opinion." Souter would have struck down the Indiana law as unconstitutional because, as he argued at the time, it "threatens to impose nontrivial burdens" upon the right to vote.
Joined by four other 7th Circuit jurists last October, Posner penned an extraordinarily powerful and compelling dissent [PDF] in Wisconsin's photo ID voting case. The previously missing evidence is now in, as the judge meticulously detailed in the opinion. GOP claims that photo ID restrictions are needed to combat "voter fraud", he wrote, are "a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government"...
Posner's carefully crafted dissent does more than establish why the U.S. Supreme Court should ultimately sustain the District Court's finding that Wisconsin's photo ID law is both unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act --- a finding later echoed by a federal District Court in Texas as well. Posner's dissent obliterates the factual premise that had served as a pillar upon which his, and subsequently the Supreme Court's, decisions in Crawford were based.
Polling place photo ID laws do not promote voter confidence in the integrity of elections, as Posner and the Crawford Supreme Court plurality had erroneously assumed. The assertion that they do was a "mistake" --- Posner's mistake! --- and he now admits as much, with the support of devastating new data from recent studies to back him up.
His powerful dissent amounts to more than just a response to the Wisconsin GOP's new Photo ID voting law. It is an elegant plea that the U.S. Supreme Court finally right a grievous wrong that he was personally responsible for. Posner presents an astonishing, air-tight case for ruling that all "strict Photo ID laws," which, as he demonstrates, have only been enacted in states sporting GOP-controlled legislatures, must now be struck-down as unconstitutional...
This guy, Tom Scott of Computerphile, is right on the money in every respect, when it comes to electronic voting --- be it via touch-screen computers, paper ballot optical-scan systems or, God forbid, Internet Voting. If I was British, and younger, and better looking, and smarter, this would be me...
After almost 11 years at this, it's great to see that at least a few folks are finally getting it. While many understand some of the problems of e-voting, too many still think those probs can be solved with "paper trails" or "open source systems" or Vote-by-Mail or, somehow, even Internet Voting (via phone, tablet or elsewhere). Scott clearly understands, and smartly explains in the short video above, why the problems of electronic voting and tabulating cannot be solved by any of those methods, no matter how much many otherwise well-intentioned folks may wish they could be.
Scott starts off by citing the extraordinary failure of Gov. Chris Christie's emergency Internet Voting scheme, hurriedly (and disastrously) implemented in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Beyond that, he goes on to make a number of spot-on points, though all of them are predicated on one key notion that, while it may still be true in Great Britain, is becoming more and more of a distant memory in the U.S. every day: An election where everyone in the public is allowed to observe the removal of hand-marked paper ballots from the ballot box, and watch them being counted right then and there, is the most secure and "trustworthy" election possible --- at least based on hundreds of years of vote counting in democracies...
A few weeks ago, Francis Barry, whose bio identifies him as having "previously served as Director of Public Affairs and Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg," had a piece published by Bloomberg View (the op-ed arm of the Bloomberg News outlet), portending to examine whether Photo ID voting laws had an adverse effect on turnout this year.
Specifically, as the very first paragraph of his piece explained, Barry claims to have been looking at whether "voter identification laws suppress turnout" since, as he opined in the same graf, "Liberals" argue "not all citizens have the type of ID that many states now require at the polls."
The piece, headlined "Quit Blaming Low Turnout on Voter ID", went out of its way to make the case that such laws had nothing to do with turnout this year, as some states with such laws even saw higher turnout than others without them. While one could attempt to make such an argument, in this case, unfortunately, Barry used extraordinarily deceptive data and moving goal posts in order to do so, as detailed in the emails (posted below) between me, him and one of his editors.
The main trick he employed was an apples to oranges comparison of turnout rates in "21 states that had a competitive gubernatorial or Senate race", where, he misleadingly claimed, "Fourteen of the 21 states had a voter ID requirement in place, while seven didn't".
But here's the thing. Barry deceptively swapped the type of very specific Photo ID laws cited in his first paragraph, with very non-restrictive ID laws that are in use without objection in many states.
When I explained all of this in detail to him and his editors via email (all posted below), the response I received back was, as I noted, "mind-boggling, to be frank"...
It's difficult to know where Rightwingers are now when it comes to the release of today's remarkable, horrifying, redacted 528-page executive summary [PDF] of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's 6,000-page report on Bush-era CIA torture.
"Torture never happened!," they used to say. Then, "Okay, it happened, but it wasn't torture!" Then, "Okay, torture happened, but it was necessary!" Now, "This report is just meant as a distraction from America's real problem: ObamaCare!"
You get the idea. So did legendary syndicated cartoonist and blogger Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins), and he's been covering it with brilliant, dead-on satire for years. With the release of the Senate report, almost a decade in the making, we're posting a few very-much-related Tom Tomorrow toons from over the years below, as self-selected by Perkins on Twitter today.
"It's not as if we've learned nothing in ten years," he tweeted. "In a 2004 cartoon, I still had to explain what 'waterboarding' was."
And, as he also made clear, none of what we are learning today is ultimately a surprise. "Presumably if the cartoonists knew about it, the White House did as well."
They did indeed, as a glance at these toons from over the years makes clear yet again...
North Carolina Republicans are now seeking to delay the full federal trial challenging their massive election reform law, which has been described as the worst-in-the-nation and as a "monster" voter suppression law.
The tactic threatens to, once again, undermine any ruling by the court, should it be made too close to the state's 2016 elections. The trial in the case had previously been set, according to a timetable established in federal court in December of 2013, to take place during the July 2015 trial calendar. State Republicans, however, now argue that a separate state court challenge to one section of its massive voter suppression law, scheduled during the same period next summer, will "severely prejudice" their ability to defend themselves in the federal case which follows it.
Plaintiffs argue in response that the move is "another step in Defendants continued attempts to delay the ultimate resolution of this action."
The attempt to re-schedule comes from the same North Carolina Republicans who, this past October, successfully persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to stay an appellate court order restoring a number of voter registration and voting provisions that were blocked by the state GOP's law, simply because the court order restoring those voting rights was issued too close to the Nov. 4, 2014 election.
The state's argument at the time was that "Court orders affecting elections...can themselves result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls. As an election draws closer, that risk will increase."
The trial which the state is now attempting to stall is in response to the same federal lawsuit involving legal challenges to the state's Voter Information Verification Act ("VIVA"). This site, and many others, described the legislation as the "nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era," when state Republicans enacted the extraordinarily wide-reaching restrictions on voting and registration in NC within days of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting a key portion of the Voting Rights Act in the summer of 2013...
• The U.S. House race in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District (Rep. Gabby Giffords old seat) is headed to a "recount", as the state plans to "recount" ballots on the same faulty electronic optical-scan computers that tallied them in the first place. Pima County, AZ election law attorney Bill Risner joins us to discuss his lawsuit [PDF] against the state's plan for the "recount".
• Dr. Michael Mann, Penn State University climate scientist and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines responds to the disturbing climate change-related story line on a recent episode of Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom on HBO as we separate scary climate fact from even scarier climate fiction. Mann also comments on the seemingly very encouraging news out of Germany this week, suggesting that fossil fuel companies are seeing "the writing on the wall". The good news: The guy who created the infamous "Hockey Stick Graph" is actually the optimistic one, for a change!
• Finally --- as relevant as ever this week --- it's the 50th anniversary of the "Free Speech Movement" kicked off by activist Mario Savio's inspiring speech at the UC Berkeley sit-in in 1964 ("There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus") and the 30th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster at the Union Carbide plant in India in 1984. We commemorate both.
Download MP3 or listen online below...
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